Intuitive Eating, Weight loss advice

Study: Dieting = MORE Holiday Weight Gain?

If you’re like me, you’ve been baking up a storm of holiday treats. For many of us, those holiday treats come along with the dreaded holiday weight gain.

I posted 5 general tips back in November for how to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, but today I’m covering a scientific study on how dieting affects holiday weight gain–and what it means for you.

Peppermint bark is always a classic in my house!

The Study

In this study, the researchers looked at how much weight was gained over the holidays by dieters versus normal controls (nondieters). And, more importantly, what kinds of dieting habits these groups had.

The dieters were people who had successfully lost weight in the past and kept it off for years–so they really knew how to diet. Before the holiday, many of them reported having “extremely strict” holiday diet and exercise plans in place: they had solid plans to control their portions, cut out treats, and exercise like crazy. Many of them also lost weight before the holidays to have a safety net in the event of holiday weight gain.

Sounds like a lot of people around November, right?

Not a single one of the 100 nondieters, on the other hand, reported having strict diet or exercise plans. None of them reported losing any weight to prepare for the holidays, either.

So the dieters were completely focused on weight loss, had strict plans in place to do that, and even preemptively lost weight to have a holiday safety net. And the nondieters didn’t care about weight or dieting much at all.

Guess who gained more weight?

The dieters.

During the holiday, the dieters reported exercising much more, and successfully sticking to their strict diet plans. They followed self-imposed rules, like only eating at home and not allowing snacking after dinner. They intentionally stopped eating before they were full, focused on their portions, and weighed themselves more often.

And yet, they gained weight: almost half of them gained more than 2lbs. Only 15% of the nondieters, on the other hand, gained weight.

The kicker is that even a month later, in February, three times as many dieters were still holding onto that holiday weight than nondieters.

But why did this happen?

The researchers found that paying less attention to their weight and dieting over the holidays predicted more weight gain in the dieters. And yet, the dieters were still paying more attention to their weight and diet overall than the nondieters, so that can’t explain why they gained more.

This seemingly paradoxical result really shows how dieting affects you: if you’re used to dieting, then the second you take a break from completely obsessing over your weight and diet plans, you start to gain weight.

My favorite Christmas treat: toffee!

So, what does this mean for you?

The only way dieting really works in the long term is if you maintain complete control 100% of the time, with no binges or overeating or slip ups. And that isn’t realistic. It’s usually more like a cycle of doing well for a little while, then overeating, then trying to make up for it by dieting more strictly, which leads to binging… rinse and repeat.

Dieting just doesn’t work in the long term.

So what can you do?

Be like the nondieters: try intuitive eating (here’s my post on how to do that). Don’t focus on your weight. Don’t make strict diet plans. Don’t impose eating or exercise rules on yourself. Instead, just learn to tune into your body’s signals so you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full–that’s it!

It takes some time to escape from a diet mentality and the cycle of strict dieting and slip-ups, but it is so worth it.

And if you want to lose weight, just focus on eating whole, plant-based foods. (No need to cut out treats though!) There’s a ton of research that shows that eating this way, without any dieting, leads to effortless weight loss.

The holidays should be a time that you can spend focusing on loved ones, relaxation, and self-care. Not a time that you have to spend all your mental energy on keeping up your diet.

 

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Happy Holidays,

Recipes

Protein-Packed Vegan Chili Recipe

Today Iโ€™m teaming up with Goode Foods to bring you a recipe that’ll help keep you warm in the cold weather: chili!

Iโ€™ve been eating Thanksgiving leftovers for almost every. single. meal. since we celebrated it last weekend. I guess thatโ€™s what happens when you make 7 dishes for 4 people. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And after all that heavy comfort food, all I wanted this weekend was something veggie packed and oil freeโ€”but still comforting. And this chili fit the bill perfectly!

I also made tofu sofritas to put a fun spin on it and up the protein factor. Itโ€™s so chewy and delicious, and a perfect contrast for the melt-in-your-mouth beans and veggies!

So, thank you Goode foods for inspiring me to make this! Iโ€™m a big fan not only because their canned beans & veggies are delicious and grown by local farmers, but they support veganismโ€”all their products are vegan, and they team up with vegan bloggers (like me!) to get more healthy vegan recipes out there.

Chili Ingredients:

  • Large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 3/4c chopped bell pepper
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 4 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 – 15oz cans of pinto and black beans (I used Goode Foods: 2 cans black, 1 can pinto–any combo works!)
  • 2 – 15oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 15oz can corn (I used Goode Foods)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Chili Directions:

  1. Mince or press garlic (I use this garlic press) and add to a large pot over medium heat, along with the onion. Saute until the onion begins to get translucent, about 3-5 mins.
  2. Add bell pepper, carrots, celery, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika to pot. Saute about 2 mins, or until veggies begin to get tender.
  3. Add the beans and tomatoes to the pot, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. You want the veggies to be tender, and the beans to be very soft and start falling apart.
  4. Stir in the lime juice, maple syrup, can of corn, and the tofu sofritas.
  5. Enjoy on its own, or top with vegan sour cream, or cornbread muffins (stay tuned for that recipe!)

Tofu Sofritas Ingredients:

  • 1 block super firm tofu (~400g)
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

Tofu Sofritas Directions:

  1. Combine nutritional yeast, soy sauce, lime juice, syrup, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Stir until combined.
  2. Using your fingers, crumble the tofu into a large skillet. Pour in the sauce you made in step 1, and stir until tofu is evenly coated.
  3. Saute tofu on medium heat, stirring frequently, until it browns. (The drier it is, the chewier it’ll be in the chili!)
  4. Remove from heat and set aside until step 4 of the chili.

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Recipes

My Vegan Thanksgiving Feast Menu: 7 Dishes Omnivores will Love too

Last year, I had my first fully vegan Thanksgiving. Of course, I’ve eaten vegan at every Thanksgiving since I went vegan 5 years ago, but I’m used to having at most 1-3 things to eat at potluck friendsgivings… but this time, ALL of the food around me was vegan!

I had so much fun getting to make this giant feast for my fiancรฉ and I, and it turned out amazingly. And I’ll be doing it again this year for him and my lovely (nonvegan) soon-to-be in-laws! So, I’m sharing the dishes I made, and plan to make again this year, to give you some Thanksgiving inspiration!

1. Cheesy scalloped potatoes

Everything was amazing, but these were the star of the show. Here’s the thing with most vegan scalloped potato recipes: they’re wonderfully healthy, full of nooch and cashews and whatnot, and take a bit of time to prep. Usually I’m all about that. But for this, we wanted something 1) easy and 2) super decadent and stuffed with storebought vegan cheese… because, y’know, Thanksgiving. So here’s a sneak preview of my recipe before I do a whole post on it:

  • 2ย pounds Yukon goldย potatoes
  • ยผย cup vegan butter (we use Miyoko’s)
  • ยผย cupย all-purpose flour
  • 2ย cupsย vegan half & half
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 1/2ย cups vegan cheese shreds, we used a mix with cheddar & white cheese
  • Paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F
  2. Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they’re starting to get tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Now make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the flour turns golden brown. Stir in half & half and cook until thickened, stirring often, for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch rounds–I recommend using a mandolin to get the slices even. Place 1/3 of the potatoes overlapping in a single layer in the baking dish, seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1/3 of the cheese sauce on top of the potatoes.
  5. Repeat for two more layers. Pour all of the remaining cheese sauce over the top layer of potatoes. Spread to ensure all of the potatoes are covered.
  6. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded cheese and a dash of paprika for color.
  7. Bake in the 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.
Bottom: stuffing; left: roast surrounded by the bacon brussels sprouts; right: sweet potato casserole; middle: cheesy scalloped potatoes; top: pumpkin pie blondies

2. Stuffing

Simple vegan stuffing recipe by the Minimalist Baker

This was a nice healthy counterpart to the rest of the feast. It was refreshing to load up on lentils, veggies and starches in between digging into the rich scalloped potatoes and roast. You can also do prep for this the day before by chopping up all the veggies. Or, you could even make the whole thing the day before–it was great leftover!

3. Sweet potato casserole

Classic sweet potato casserole recipe by My Darling Vegan

I ended up making my own version of this and will be posting my recipe before long–but you can’t go wrong with any recipe involving sweet potatoes topped with toasted, buttery pecans! You can make the sweet potatoes and topping the day before, then wait to combine them til the day of: just add the topping and pop it in the oven once you’re nearing dinner time!

4. Roast

You could make your own roast, but for the time to taste trade off, I would recommend going store bought for this. Our favorites are the Trader Joe’s vegan roast, and the Field Roast line of roasts. (Tip: we’ve tried all the roasts we’ve seen in stores, and really did not like Tofurkey’s roast unfortunately)

Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast With Gravy - product in packaging

Image result for field roast roast

5. Brussels sprouts with bacon

This one’s an optional side–any of your favorite veggie sides would work. You could also roast these in the oven if you have space, but a major plus of this version is you can leave the oven free for the roast, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, & sweet potatoes!

  • 6 strips vegan bacon (I recommend Upton’s naturals for this recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook the bacon in a pan until it’s your desired level of crispiness/chewiness.
  2. Remove the bacon, and chop it once cool.
  3. Melt the butter in the pan, then add the onions and brussels sprouts, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts turn golden brown.
  4. Add the bacon back into the pan with the sprouts, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
We wanted to consolidate the plates so we surrounded the roast (Field Roast celebration roast) with the brussels sprouts!

6. Pumpkin Pie Blondies

Pumpkin pie blondie recipe from Allrecipes

In addition to being a fun but easy fall-themed dessert, these were great for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, too! (I made them the day before because they keep great.)

7. Bonus dessert: Pecan pie bars

If you’re a big pecan lover like me, you might prefer this simplified version of a more classic dessert: pecan pie! I know there are already pecans on the sweet potato casserole, but I believe there’s no such thing as too many pecans on Thanksgiving. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I didn’t make them last year but I’m planning to this year–they’re always a big hit at potlucks.

For the crust:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil

For the filling:

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk for a lighter version)
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350, and line a 9″ pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the crust ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, and coconut oil) and stir until they combine into a dough. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is slightly firm to the touch.
  3. Now for the filling: stir the coconut oil, maple syrup, and sugar in a sauce pan until combined, then boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add in the coconut cream and the pecans.
  4. Pour the filling onto the crust and spread it evenly.
  5. Bake until the filling is bubbling and set (no longer runny), 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love โค

Recipes

Hearty Vegan Pumpkin Soup with Pepita Cream Recipe

Now that temperatures are just starting to dip below the 80s here in California, I’ve been getting excited for soup season. I’ve been particularly pining for pumpkin soup to meal prep for work, but noticed that all the recipes I’d found weren’t nearly hearty (read: starch filled) enough to get me through the day.

So, I came up with my own! I wanted to add as much starch, protein, and fiber as possible while staying true to pumpkin soup flavor & texture, so I decided to add my favorite secret soup ingredient: chickpeas. Not only do they pump up the nutrition, but they make the soup really creamy.

This experiment once again confirmed my conviction that chickpeas are magical, and can and should be added to just about everything. (Including oatmeal–it’s good, I swear!)

Oh, and I whipped up a cream to top the soup with that looks and tastes fancy, but is super easy.

Did I mention this recipe takes only takes 20 minutes to make, and a serving (1/3 of it, about ~400 cals) has 19 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein?!

Serves 3

Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
  • 2 – 15oz cans chickpeas
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 big cloves garlic
  • 2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (preferably light canned coconut milk)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vegan chicken bouillon (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • Topping ideas: cranberries, pumpkin seeds, roasted chickpeas

Directions:

  1. Sautรฉ onions and garlic until onions are translucent.
  2. Combine all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. Heat the soup on the stove or microwave when ready to serve.
  4. Add toppings, and enjoy!

 

Pepita Cream Ingredients (optional):

  • 1/4c dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4c raw cashews
  • 1/2c water

Directions:

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, if desired for thinner consistency.

Bonus: it can also double as a creamy pumpkin pasta sauce.

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Recipes

Easy Vegan Sushi Recipe

Today I’m sharing a staple in my kitchen: veggie sushi. Summer or winter, rain or shine, sushi is always a hit with me! And, bae requests it non-stop… even before he was vegan ๐Ÿ™‚

A key part of our sushi addiction is dipping it in teriyaki–it just takes it to the next level. It’s also really flexible in what you can add for fillings, as long as you have avocado and carrot on hand as a base. It’s both light and filling somehow, and packs in those veggies in a way that tastes totally addictive!

Makes 2 large rolls (serves 1-2)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1.2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar (or use 1 tbsp rice vinegar + 2 tsp sugar + 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 2 nori sheets
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber (optional)
  • Teriyaki sauce for dipping
  • Add-in ideas: tofu, mushrooms, sweet potato

Directions

  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. Stir in seasoned rice vinegar, and set aside to cool while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Cut avocado in half, and slice each half lengthwise into ~6-7 slices.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrot into ribbons. Or, if preferred, cut into matchsticks.
  4. Slice cucumber or other ingredients into a similar size.
  5. Get a small bowl with 2-4 tbsp of water in it, and set near your sushi-rolling area.
  6. Place a nori sheet onto a sushi mat or clean tea towel. Spread half of the rice evenly across the nori, leaving the top 1″ free. Lay half the veggies on top of the rice about 2″ from the bottom, layering them in a stack. Dip your finger in the small bowl of water and wet the top rice-free 1″ of the nori; this will make it stick to itself!
  7. Lift the bottom of the nori + rice sheet and roll it over the vegetables, and keep rolling it over itself all the way to the top. Add more water to the outside of the seam if necessary. Squeeze the roll a little bit to keep everything together. (Check out a nice sushi rolling guide here.)
  8. Repeat steps 6 & 7, but using the remaining half of the rice and veggies.
  9. Slice into 1″ rolls, or keep them as sushi burritos (my preferred way to eat them!)
  10. Dip in teriyaki, soy sauce, or spicy vegan mayo, and enjoy!

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Recipes

Easy Pumpkin Drop Biscuits [Whole Wheat, Fat Free]

I’m in denial about fall.

I’m a spring and summer person through and through. I’ve been loving doing my PhD research in my hammock, outside in 90 degree weather, sipping on cold-pressed juice I just made. (Cucumber watermelon has been my go-to lately.)

One acceptable part of fall for me, though, is the pumpkin. And the baking. (Yellow leaves and hot chocolate are nice too, I guess. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

The other day I got the idea out of the blue to make these biscuits (I guess fall is creeping into my subconscious, despite being in denial), and I’m amazed at how well they turned out given how easy and healthy they are. So in honor of this being the first week of fall, I wanted to share them with you!

They’re fluffy but not dry, and oh so versatile. You can make them sweet by adding more maple syrup or sugar, or pair them a savory dish by leaving the syrup out. My current favorite way of eating them is for breakfast with a chocolate date spread, and I’m excited to try pairing these with black bean chili.

Thankfully, it’s still 85 degrees out so I can pretend it’s summer for a few more weeks. (While sitting in my hammock, eating these biscuits. ๐Ÿ˜› )

Makes 8 biscuits.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk (I used soy)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional, or add more for sweet biscuits)
  • Dash pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt.
  3. Add in the nondairy milk, pumpkin puree, and add-ins. Stir just until combined.
  4. Use a spoon to drop the batter into 8 even piles on a baking sheet–no need to form them into shapes.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Best eaten immediately, but they also keep well!

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Videos, Weight loss advice

Study: How to Stop Emotional Eating and Bingeing

Hey friends! Today I have advice & a super cool study for you on how to stop negative emotions from making you overeat or binge eat. This study also has useful advice for how to feel fewer negative emotions generally!

For the highlights, check out the video:

And now, the details & how to use the strategy into your own life:

Emotions are a MAJOR cause of overeating–in fact many scientists think it’s THE cause of binge eating disorder (BED).

So in this study, they tested whether a simple psychological trick could prevent people from overeating when feeling sad.

They had two groups: a group of 39 overweight women with BED, and a control group of 42 overweight women (weight-matched) without binge eating. Their average BMI in both groups was 34. The BED group was bingeing 4x a week on average, for at least the last 6 months.

They had the participants watch a really sad movie, had them use one of two emotional regulation strategies, then looked at how much they ate afterwards from bowls of biscuits and chocolate M&Ms.

They split the BED and control groups into two strategy groups: suppression and reappraisal. For the people in the suppression group, they told them to suppress their emotions:

Try to hide your feelings. Try to behave in a way that someone watching you would think that you donโ€™t feel anything at all. Try to hold a neutral expression so no one can read your feelings from your face. You can feel whatever you feel, but try your best not to show it.

For the people in the reappraisal group, they told them to try to change how they felt about the movie by focusing on different aspects:

Try to distance yourself from the movie and see it objectively. Whenever you sense a change in your feelings while watching, try to internally step back. For example, think of how the photographer and actors succeeded in presenting the scene.โ€

(Instructions in studies tend to be REALLY repetitive to make sure participants get it, so I paraphrased ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Suppression means doing nothing to actually help you stop feeling the feelings, but just hiding or ignoring them. Reappraisal means trying to be less involved in the negative emotion–focusing on other aspects of the situation, distancing yourself from the situation, or looking at it as sort of a scientist. Reappraisal is actually a big reason why some people cope better with negative emotions than others: they naturally do more reappraising. (More specific advice on this below!)

So the participants watched a movie scene about the loss of a loved one, and other studies have shown that the movie scene makes people really sad. After the movie, both groups of participants rated themselves as feeling more sad than before the movie. But, the group that had done reappraisal during the movie felt less sad.ย 

Then, they gave each participant a bowl of biscuits and a bowl of M&Ms, and told them they were doing a taste test to see how the movie affected their ratings of how good the food tasted. They had 15 minutes to eat & fill out questionnaires about how good the food tasted. They had all been told to eat a regular meal 2 hours earlier, so they weren’t coming in hungry.

The Results

Participants in the suppression group ate 40% more than the reappraisal group.ย And this applied to both people who binge ate, and those who didn’t. Over 15 minutes this amounted to 30 extra calories, but imagine…

If you would usually have eaten 1100 calories in a binge, this strategy could make that an 800 calorie binge instead.

And, more importantly, learning reappraisal can help you deal with negative emotions better over time (tons of other research has shown this) and break the bingeing cycle completely.

BED = binge eating disorder group; CG = control group

Interestingly, the group with BED tended to use suppression in daily life much more than the control group, and used reappraisal a lot less. So that may explain how binge eating arises in the first place.

So, how can YOU start reappraising?

Reappraisal means changing the way you think about a situation. Most of the time, we only feel negative emotions because we decide that a situation is bad: for example, for one person starting a new job might be exciting; for another, it might be terrifying. Same situation, different perspectives.

So how do you reappraise a situation?

Let’s say your significant other breaks up with you. A natural reaction may be to feel worthless, self-loathing, etc. A reappraisal strategy here would be to focus on how maybe the situation isn’t the worst thing ever. Focus on the ways in which it might be a good thing: maybe he wasn’t a great match for you anyway, maybe he prevented you from seeing friends or pursuing your hobbies, and there’s definitely someone better out there for you.

Suppression, on the other hand, would be to “put on your brave face” and make it seem like the breakup didn’t affect you.

With reappraisal, challenges become opportunities for growth.

Try asking yourself questions like these:

What did you learn from the situation?

Can you find something positive that might come out of it?

Are you grateful for any part of it?

Are you better off in any way than when you started?

Could it have helped you grow or develop as a person?

So, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotions, try reappraisal. It may help you feel better instead of leading to a binge.

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